About Me

My wonderful husband died when I was 44 years old. Being widowed this young happens to less than 3% of married people. Writing through this loss one word at time helps me understand what I've lost and helps me continue to grow. It is how I have gradually recovered from such a severe loss. Research shows that you can benefit from taking just 15 minutes a day to write out your deepest feelings as a way of healing. On the right side of this blog, you'll see a tag for Exercises to Try. If you need some help knowing how to use writing to help heal yourself, I suggest you start there.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Writing as Medicine

Why oh why should I continue to write about the effects of Ken's death on my life?

After all, it's been three and a half years already. Isn't it time to live in the present, to launch purposefully out into the future? Wouldn't it be better to just stop thinking about it? Isn't it time to just MOVE ON? Turns out, I have no idea what moving on means. I put one foot ahead of the other. I have moments of joy and glee and good humor just like the next gal...maybe even more than the next gal, depending on who she is. I turn the calendar at the end of every month. I make goals and accomplish them. I am open to the goodness that exists. Yet still, I am compelled to keep on expressing my feelings about losing my husband.

Writing, as it happens, is an effective, useful way to recover from a personal trauma. Dozens of studies conducted over many years by James Pennebaker, Ph.D, a research psychologist from Southern Methodist University, have shown that writing about your troubles can improve your health and emotional well-being, reduce anxiety and depression, and even heighten your immune function. Proven: writing can help you heal.

I have written steadily about Ken's death, and before that, his four-year illness, since 2002. Our children were just three and six years of age when he was first diagnosed with cancer. He went through multiple rounds of treatment including two stem-cell transplants, one of them requiring that he live in Texas for six months with me going back and forth between a critically ill husband and my two small chidren back in Chicago. At the end of all that treatment, he died from complications due to his transplant. Despite this huge, on-going, long-term, major stressor, I have remained remarkably healthy. I believe that writing out my pain, keeping a Heartbreak Diary, is one of the primary reasons I have stayed so healthy after losing so big.

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